The nature of property management business requires a definitive organization to acquire a software solution that sufficiently covers its specific business needs. Effective management of multiple properties manually in most of the case may not come easily to you and your staff. With an array of records to go through on a daily basis touching on tenant management, listing, broker management, manual property management only becomes more stressful as the business grows.
There are a number of property management software solutions providers out there, each promising to deliver a perfect solution for the current necessities in your business. While some solutions are top notch in the market, some are just a rip off and do not give appealing results of what is exactly expected from them.
That said it is important for any serious business to evaluate feasible software before making purchase decision. There are key items on a scrutiny checklist you need to tick before giving it a go on a software a vendor proposes.
Here are some of the pointers to give much attention to when selecting a solution
A huge percentage of property searches today happen majorly on the internet. Your business should exist on platforms where prospective clients hangout and have higher chances finding you. If you are purchasing standalone software for back office management purposes, it is highly advisable to integrate the system with online outlets. This includes websites and mobile apps.
Do these come as a package from the vendor?
Apart from clients interacting with your business round the clock online, your staff can leverage the possibility of remotely accessing the system. This means, listing of a property can be done right on the spot where you find it. Your website should also be integrated with IDX ,a technology that pulls listings from MLS databases.
Online payment through multiple gateways should be part of a system that aims at transacting online. A real estate management system accepting online payments makes customer list booking, rent payments and similar transactions easy and readily accessible.
Is the system ready for use without much training yet provides the requisite solutions to the organization?
Users should have an easy time interacting with the system. It should automate most of the tasks while providing detailed reports on demand. A system that profiles data graphically eases understanding and saves on time.
Choose a system that has a comprehensively prepared offline support and an all year round support from the developers through diverse communication media such us online live support, phone calls and workstation in person support. The support team should be reachable on first contact .This ensures smooth business from prompt support.
How do you ascertain this? Well do your research for the preferred optimal solutions that are reliable and sustainable.
Opting for a cloud hosted over a local hosted solution would cut on huge initial investment on server hardware and software. A cloud based system hosts your system on a remote server that is managed by third party providers. Security and delivery of your records is serviced by such companies. The down side of taking this route is that data is only available only when there is internet and you lose full control of the data.
Is pricing commensurate to what is being marketed to you?
Does it have maximum returns on investment?
To ascertain these, request a software demo or a software trial version that last for a month or two to give you ample time to interact and assess its performance.
Most software will come with hidden charges in form of upgrade fees, subscription fees or maintenance fee. Seek to establish straight up front, the existence of such so that you are completely aware of what business deals you are about to get into.
Finally, social proof has its place here too. Are there verifiable businesses using the solution fronted to you and what is the level of satisfaction. You can write to friends in other organizations to get insights of the systems they are using and whether the package you are about to purchase meets the industry standards.
To remain competitive in a rather clouded property market, its paramount to position your business to as many eyeballs as possible. Apart from having your own website, the system should seamlessly integrate with other bigger marketing systems such as Zillow. This should happen with a simple import and export functionality that facilitates transfer of listings from your standalone system to other giant systems effortlessly.
Data ownership and security
It would be disheartening to realize that you can’t move with your crucial data to the next provider. This happens especially when you opt for a cloud based systems. The data lives in your providers servers. They may place prohibitive rules for exporting data without your prior knowledge inconveniencing you eventually. Seek to understand data ownership policies early on in the negotiation process to evade such instances.
To top it up, data security is always a priority number one for any business out there. Seek to understand how secure your information is. Establish what security mechanisms are in place and how to trigger them. If you host your system on the clouds, let the vendor spell out the policies of enforcing security of your data and measures taken if any of the party involved violates them
In the end, choose a solution that is scalable as well as evolving with the current trends going deep into the future of your business.
We have put together a review of two comprehensive softwares that fascinated our scrutinizing eyes. These softwares have wound into their structure most of the features we have highlighted above.
APPFOLIO property Manager
The vendor has gone into great lengths of producing a solution package for each recognizable sub sector in the realtor business. Notably, from residential, commercial, student housing to community associations, agents have been wholesomely covered.
Some of the outstanding features include
- Account and bookkeeping-Never again worry about having a separate system to maintain your books of accounts.Appfolio integrates accounts and bookkeeping feature that automates financial profiling bringing flexibility to your business in the end.
- It is a Cloud based software.
- Self Service portal for renters-payment and maintenances requests are fulfilled online.
- Engaged property owner-Capability of files and funds transfer between the agent and the property owner safely online.
- Built in text messaging
- Mobile app technology for each participant party
- Tenant screening to get a compliant tenant.
- Handles online leasing
- Ability to schedule rent increase
- Excellent support service through escalating support tickets, a community of appfolio users, self-guided easy to follow course and complete a FAQ page. You will never be stuck when using appfolio.
- Slick and professional website that makes almost all property managements processes possible online. Appfolio guarantees a customizable site to fit whatever property you intend to list.
- Though it’s a thorough system with almost every imaginable aspect of real estate business completely covered, we did not see any attempt of the vendor to integrate with external online marketing channels like Zillow. This means, you will be limited to your own marketing platforms.
- Does not integrate with existing financial management systems such as QuickBooks. What this means is, you will have to migrate all your data to the new system. Most businesses are privy of new systems and hesitant to do a complete changeover.
If you are looking for a system for your real estate brokerage firm that is robust but yet integrates with your already existing systems, then Brokermint is the go to solution. Brokermint makes your business operations better without having to start over.
Some of the outstanding features include
- Transaction Management
Brokermint monitors and automates transactional processes through organized filling and detailed work flows. It strives to consolidate vital files in one place to ease accessibility. The realtor will know at any instant the state of a running transaction, whether it is pending, due or already completed.
- Commission Management
Losing track of commission payment to your agents is common to most business owners. Eliminate the pain by employing Brokermint software solution. It will monitor sales, automatically assign your set commission to the right agent once a transaction is closed. Reviewing commissions paid out to each agent has been simplified with a complete profiling added to it.
- Quickbooks intergration
Most businesses yearn for a solution that will marry with their existing systems and exchange information seamlessly. Brokermint understands this. They have made it easier to import data from your QuickBooks system. Better still, you can sync your data between the two systems eliminating the needs for double entry. This covers both QuickBooks online and QuickBooks desktop.
Your accountant will not have to learn how to use the financial module on Brokermint. The structure of this feature simulates that of QuickBooks making your staff adapt to it much faster.
It also boast of capability of integrating with other popular solutions sales force, propertybase, mls,quickbooks, xero amongst others. Brokermint does not work in isolation which makes it more appealing.
- It occurs to us that the system is only suitable for property owners.It does not accommodate other industry players such as agents and tenants. It locks this group out and therefore limited in some functionalities such as online rent payment or agents online listing.